Highland Indians and the State in Modern Ecuador, I & II

The papers in this double session examine the relations between highland Indians and the state in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Ecuador. They explore state formation as an uneven process, characterized by tensions and contradictions, in which Indians actively participated. In addition, the sessions situate Ecuadorian Indian-state relations in a comparative Latin American context, in order to delineate the specificities of these processes in Ecuador.

Paper abstracts:

Session 1:

1) Aleeze Sattar, “State Formation and Indian Communities, Chimborazo 1830-1875"

The early Ecuadorian state was unable to create a "common discursive framework," and two distinct forms of governance (a republican model based on citizenship and a colonial model based on "a pact of submission" between Indians and the state) coexisted uncomfortably during the early decades. My paper explores this difficulty of Ecuadorian state formation, and focuses on the problematic way in which Indian communities were incorporated into the nation.

2) Erin O'Connor, “Helpless Children or Undeserving Patriarchs?: Gender Ideologies and Contradictions in Indian/State Relations in Late Nineteenth-Century Ecuador”

This paper uses an indigenous domestic violence case, along with other data, to examine inconsistencies in the state's proposed mission to civilize Indians during Garcianismo. Central state officials debated whether Indian men were children who should be saved or aberrant patriarchs who should be punished; this contradiction reflected broader state ambivalence towards Indians. The essay advances patriarchy along with class, race, and region, as a means of scrutinizing the uneven development of Indian/state relations.

3) Derek Williams, “The 1885 Census: Defining Ethnicity, Class and Gender in Otavalo, Ecuador”

This paper analyses the ways in which official discourses of ethnicity, class and gender were constructed in late-nineteenth century Ecuador. It focuses on the 1885 population census of Otavalo. While attempting to forge a common "national" categorization, the state's internal contradictions left much space for "local" manipulation of its categories.

4) Michiel Baud, “Indians and Indigenistas in early 20th-century Ecuador“

This paper will analyse the contents of indigenista ideologies in early 20th-century Ecuador. It will try to assess the social consequences of these ideas and the responses they elicited from the Indian population. It will try to incorporate the results of recent studies on indigenista politics in the Andes (e.g. de la Cadena, Salmon, Gonzales, Guerrero, Stern).

­Discussants: David Nugent, Carol Smith

Session 2:

5) Kim Clark, “Shifting Paternalisms in Indian-State Relations (1895-1950)”

This paper examines the delicate balance between paternalism and deference in relations between highland Indians and the Ecuadorian state, with attention to the changing forms of these relations over the first half of the twentieth century. It examines forms of paternalism ‘from above’ (including specific policies towards Indians), as well as deference ‘from below’ (with emphasis on the strategic uses of deference by indigenous actors towards some state officials, but not others).

6) Marc Becker, "State Building and Ethnic Discourse in Ecuador's 1944-1945 Asamblea Constituyente"

A progressive constitution promulgated after the "Glorious May Revolution" seemed to promise to break down exclusionary barriers that prevented Indians from participating as equals in the process of state formation in Ecuador. Based on an examination of debates within the 1944-1945 constituent assembly and popular actions in the streets, this essay analyzes competing interests which divided sympathetic leftist and antagonistic conservative views on state formation, and the Indian peoples who were caught between the two.

7) Emma Cervone, “Facing Neoliberalism: the Challenges of Redefining a Multiethnic State.”

In Ecuador the birth of a new political party in 1996, Pachakutik, has functioned as a structural opening for the indigenous participation in local governments within the neo-liberal project of state decentralization. The paper analyzes the challenges that the newly-elected indigenous mayors face in the exercise of their authority. Caught between both an inter- and intra-ethnic power struggle, they are facing the contradictions and tensions that derive from a multicultural project of state.

8) Amalia Pallares, “Between Indian Activism and Coastal Autonomy: Redefining Civil Society in Ecuador”

This paper explores the impact that indigenous activism has on other social sectors in contemporary Ecuadorian society. Specifically, I focus on the relationship between highland indigenous activism and coastal activism for cost of living issues and regional autonomy. The Indian movement's impact on coastal movements is analyzed on three levels: as the generator of a significant protest cycle, as an ideological and strategic influence, and as an agent in the construction of new state-society relations.

­Discussants: Guillermo de la Peña, Suzana Sawyer